The Real Problem with GMO

Regardless of the extent GMO harms human health (which I personally believe to be minimal), it is undeniable that there are many benefits of GMO to humanity. For instance, GMO crops have increased yields and increased pest resilience. Benefits range from economic (less money needed to grow more crops) to environmental (less chemical needed to kill crop pests).

But I have a serious issue with the GMO market—how it is patented, and who profits from it.

First of all, patenting an organism is absurd. A company like Monsanto makes a minor change, such as adding or removing a single gene, to an organism whose genome was developed over billions of years of evolution. Allowing such a company to patent the product is nonsensical.

But Monsanto patents seeds on a regular basis, and legally pursues those who use the seeds without paying Monsanto. This includes seeds generated from crops found to have Monsanto genes. Effectively, “buying” seeds from Monsanto is really more like renting them. Monsanto controls what products of the crop can be sold or reused by the farmer—seeds, evidently, cannot.

The free market has proven to be an amazing system for promoting innovation. For private corporations to create and sell their GMO products is not a bad thing. But this is not really the case with modern GMO companies. They demand control over a farmer’s produce. This is not in the spirit of a free market. The farmer loses the freedom to do what he or she wills with what he or she produces.

On top of the absurdity of patenting what is 99.9% a creation of nature, the seed patent system takes freedom away from farmers.

That is the real problem with GMO.


This Clock is Broken

Daylight Saving Time was invented a hundred years ago. It worked a hundred years ago. But is this still the case?

In our modern, computerized world, designing systems around arbitrary clock jumps is a huge drain on innovation and productivity. In 2007, the US Government changed the dates that DST started and ended on, breaking uncountable pieces of software and wasting thousands of person-hours tracking down resulting bugs.

It’s clear that computers hate Daylight Savings Time. But what about for humans? Is there a tangible benefit for us?

The common arguments for Daylight Saving Time don’t stand up to rigorous scientific studies. It turns out that DST does not save energy in today’s world. Electricity consumption is now tied more to temperature than sunlight, and the original argument that evening sunlight will lower incandescent bulb use is now irrelevant.

China, India, and Russia, three of the largest countries in the world by economic size or population, have all tried and abandoned Daylight Saving Time, because it simply does not make sense. The proposal has caused so much harm to farmers that the province of Saskatchewan no longer observes Daylight Saving Time.

Contrary to its name, Daylight Saving Time does not have anything to do with saving daylight. A clock that abruptly changes by one hour twice a year does not actually alter sunrise and sunset. The natural length of the day (obviously) remains unchanged no matter what we do to our clocks.

The idea behind Daylight Saving Time is to modify human schedules to better use the daylight. It attempts this by throwing the clock off from its natural course. But this is the wrong use of a clock. The purpose of a clock is to record time. DST is breaking a useful tool that works to solve a “problem” that many don’t agree is even a problem.

Instead of fiddling with our clocks, why don’t we change our schedules? Why don’t we change working hours or school hours, so we directly fix the problem of human activities not being in sync with sunlight?

In a few hours, we change to Standard Time again. Let’s stay here this time around.